“If you see a wall that needs something on it, let me know.”
Those were the parting words of our friend and host last fall as Mark Montoya and I left the villa he and his sister have on the Amalfi coast of Italy. And, so began one of the most intriguing, challenging, and ultimately, rewarding artistic experiences Mark and I have ever had. Seven months, several conversations and sketches later, we arrived at Torre armed with a plethora of paints, bunches of brushes, real wood pencils and reams of drawings to spend two weeks in something approaching an earthly paradise, painting a mural that is a much appreciated addition to the beautiful and historical surroundings of my clients.
The villa consists of a main residence surrounded by guesthouses, gardens and working farm, straddling a ridge of land below the hill town of Ravello, Italy, and overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is a spectacular setting–and a strategic one; parts of the complex, notably the Torre (tower) and the residence (a monastery) date from the 12th century, when this area was the the foremost trading center of Europe. The wall I felt “needed something on it” is 900 years old.
Discussing ideas for paintings is a pleasure for me; this project especially so. The owners have admired the combinations of elements, changes of scale, and layers of imagery in my work, and we all felt these characteristics were appropriate for a wall that could tell a lot of stories. Thus, the design concept took the form of a historical story line: a mural painted in the original 12th century Medieval monastery was painted over 400 years later during the Renaissance. During this time the subject matter changed from religious to secular. Today, parts of both can be seen; the older emerging ghost-like to blend with the latter, forming a complex and entirely new mural. The following photos illustrate the process of designing and painting the mural, as well as some of the villa grounds that inspired us. I hope you will enjoy it.
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